Algae: Waste to sustainable biofuels

[Japan] Algae could provide a more sustainable alternative source of biofuel according to a study made by researchers from the Kobe University Graduate School of Science, Technology, and Innovation. The findings of the study, that was published in “Scientific Reports” this month, focused on marine microalgae known as Chlamydomonas sp. JSC4.

This is a new green alga species that comes from brackish water with a high growth rate. The team of researchers led by Professor Hasunuma Tomohisa used the dynamic metabolic profiling method to analyze the algae and its oil-producing characteristics.

There is a need to utilize renewable sources of energy such as algae and turn it into biofuel considering the threat of climate change, according to Science Daily. The world has become too reliant on fossil resources as a source of fuel that has proven to be expensive and destructive to the environment. The increasing industrialization of most countries has only increased their reliance n fossil fuel. This has, however, resulted in the degradation of the environment. The search is on for a more sustainable source of fuel such as algae.

Biomass has lots of potential considering that it is ten times the amount of energy being consumed by the world today. Half of these alternative sources of fuel are found in aquatic environments and can produce oil without sacrificing other resources such as land and drinking water. Compared to biomass grown on land, microalgae can be harvested at a faster rate since their cells divide fast. And since algae can be harvested the whole year round, it offers a more stable supply of energy.

The discovery of the metabolic changes in algae cells could be used to improve the cultivation of these photosynthetic organisms to ensure sustainable production in the future, according to NCBI. Biofuel from microalgae could provide a viable source of fuel but scientists need to do more studies before it can become competitive. The increasing population and demand for energy make it pertinent that such studies be made as soon as possible to meet the world’s growing demand for energy.

Biofuel derived from microalgae is said to be one of the most sustainable sources of fuel compared to other biodiesel feedstocks such as food crops and non-food crops. Microalgae can be directly converted into energy and it has a lesser impact on the environment compared to palm oil. Algae can be the source of fuel for the future, but this can only become a reality if researchers successfully find the best strains of algae for biofuel.


Photo: (Joe Raedle/Getty Images) Many people consider algae as a pest like this massive algae infestation that has plagued the coast of Florida last year. Microalgae can, however, become a sustainable source of fuel.

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